Emotive Portrait Photoshoot with Laurie Klein

“It will be more incredible than anything you could plan” Laurie told me as I considered creating an impromptu 3-day event for 25 people, with no venue or agenda and a start time within 48 hours. I did have Laurie in town from Connecticut and a number of generous and resourceful people ready to help.
 
The confidence that Laurie instilled in me was absolute – I knew she was right, we could do it. She has that same effect during her photoshoots. She makes her model feel beautiful; absolutely confident in who she is, and how she looks. Laurie spreads her enthusiasm to her students and shows them how to create and capture a world, a story, a vision.
 
I have experienced countless photography classes and field trips, but Laurie’s shoots are very different. Today let’s explore the shoot from Laurie's perspective.

We begin without our cameras. I talk through the shoot, how I work with models, the camera, fabric, light, and what I see first going into it. Then, I begin, and have the students watch - still not shooting. I tell the model she is beautiful (she is). We come up with our scene, our scenario. I have to feel it, my model has to see it. 
 
Then the students begin. I have them get their exposure right, so they don’t have to worry about it as they shoot. Each student has her turn as director. It is important that the model knows what we want and that they are completely comfortable. Sometimes, we fake it till we make it. Sometimes, if there is no story idea, we pick an emotion and work with that until something develops. We also leave room for magic, because when you put your camera up to your eye - something always shifts. You might first imagine a story, a world; and then when you step into that bubble you see things differently - and you go with it. That is the dance.
 
The transformation I saw in students (at the Firefly shoot) was so visceral. Probably more so than any time I have taught. Everyone jumped in and trusted, and they didn’t even know me. It is a leap of faith on everybody’s part. That’s what Firefly is; a safe and respectful environment that allows you to reach deep and go where you haven’t gone before.

 - Laurie Klein on her photoshoots at Firefly Institute
 
 Let's look at the results - and hear what Laurie has to say about the photos. 

Photographs from October photoshoot: Comments by Laurie Klein

 We had Jen emerge from under the water, hair in her face, coming up very slowly. I love how the hair curls around her face. We tried this several times, hair in place, eyes closed, breath held for a second as she enjoys her moment.  Photograph © Laurie Klein                                                                  Model: Jen Baxter

We had Jen emerge from under the water, hair in her face, coming up very slowly. I love how the hair curls around her face. We tried this several times, hair in place, eyes closed, breath held for a second as she enjoys her moment.

Photograph © Laurie Klein                                                                 
Model: Jen Baxter

 Meghan is a very strong, contoured woman. Her position created several triangles, and I used a lot of negative space in the boldest of the triangles. I wanted her eyes closed to leave some mystery; so we don’t know what she is thinking. This embodies strength and courage while keeping her slightly vulnerable. To me, that balance of strength and vulnerability captures one of the most remarkable parts of Meghan.  Photograph © Laurie Klein                                                                  Model: Meghan Davidson

Meghan is a very strong, contoured woman. Her position created several triangles, and I used a lot of negative space in the boldest of the triangles. I wanted her eyes closed to leave some mystery; so we don’t know what she is thinking. This embodies strength and courage while keeping her slightly vulnerable. To me, that balance of strength and vulnerability captures one of the most remarkable parts of Meghan.

Photograph © Laurie Klein                                                                 
Model: Meghan Davidson

 We stretched fabric over the pool, dipping it in the water and lifting it up. The model has no idea what we are seeing, and we work to keep her in the moment too. When the model is comfortable and feels safe, she will play. There is so much metaphor in the rivers of water coming down to the right of Pam’s body. When I see something this beautiful, I love I shoot a lot of it, as the light is constantly shifting and changing.   Photograph © Laurie Klein                                                                  Model: Pam Sogge

We stretched fabric over the pool, dipping it in the water and lifting it up. The model has no idea what we are seeing, and we work to keep her in the moment too. When the model is comfortable and feels safe, she will play. There is so much metaphor in the rivers of water coming down to the right of Pam’s body. When I see something this beautiful, I love I shoot a lot of it, as the light is constantly shifting and changing.


Photograph © Laurie Klein                                                                 
Model: Pam Sogge

 The S is one of the strongest and lovliest shapes in nature. Her chest is open and the space in front of her leaves room.  Her face is relaxed. This photo also has the optical illusion of three hands.  Photograph © Chrissie Kremer                                                                Model: Meghan Davidson

The S is one of the strongest and lovliest shapes in nature. Her chest is open and the space in front of her leaves room.  Her face is relaxed. This photo also has the optical illusion of three hands.

Photograph © Chrissie Kremer                                                               
Model: Meghan Davidson

 Simple, close complementary colors - such a contract. The photo asks questions and involves the viewer.  Composition; everything in the picture is there for a reason. The hair is parting on her eye, her mouth is totally free so it is not locking. Knowing how much to put in and leave out is essential. We didn’t need to see anything more, it is about the eye. It asks questions – good photographs often do so viewers can bring their own stories to it. If a story is told too accurately and completely there is less room for the viewer.  Photograph © Chrissie Kremer                                                                Model: Meghan Davidson

Simple, close complementary colors - such a contract. The photo asks questions and involves the viewer.  Composition; everything in the picture is there for a reason. The hair is parting on her eye, her mouth is totally free so it is not locking. Knowing how much to put in and leave out is essential. We didn’t need to see anything more, it is about the eye. It asks questions – good photographs often do so viewers can bring their own stories to it. If a story is told too accurately and completely there is less room for the viewer.

Photograph © Chrissie Kremer                                                               
Model: Meghan Davidson

 The use of the Lensbaby was so much fun! Here the lens keeps the center sharp and blurs the edges; it makes the dress look like it is on fire. The strong complementary colors and use of the lens fill this with movement and energy.   Photograph © Jen Baxter                                                              Model: Pam Sogge

The use of the Lensbaby was so much fun! Here the lens keeps the center sharp and blurs the edges; it makes the dress look like it is on fire. The strong complementary colors and use of the lens fill this with movement and energy. 

Photograph © Jen Baxter                                                             
Model: Pam Sogge